Summary of my first month in business
Well, December is here, and that officially marks the end of my first month in business... So how did it go so far? I'd appreciate any feedback or advice, I'm brand new to the business game!
The first two weeks: I had one service call from word of mouth advertising, so the first two weeks were spent preparing my foundation... And easily the majority of the time: Advertising!
After receiving my business license, and vendor's permit, having all my bookkeepping spreadsheets ready to go, and throwing together an office at my parent's house (yeah... gotta start somewhere), I visited a printer in my neighbourhood and ordered 500 business cards, and printed 20 color flyers to post on community boards in the area (I live in a town of 18,000 and am located near 4 or 5 smaller communties, all of which are in my target market).
Spent a couple days driving around and posting flyers (in Canada, look for post offices, grocery stores, variety stores, laundromats and some fast food restaurants even) and visiting two newspapers in the area to set up an ad... 74 dollars and 50 dollars... Two calls and they're paid off.
I went to my first call, they complained of a slow computer... It was taking about 5 minutes to get to a usable desktop and I wasn't sure what could be bogging down they're relatively clean PC. (older couple, use it strictly for emails and freecell)
I cleaned, scrubbed, tweaked, scanned and something clicked when I checked the running processes I/O reads... "How long have you been using Norton Antivirus? DId you computer happen to slow down soon after you installed it?" That was the culprit, it went from 5 minutes to just under 20 seconds after I removed it!
The call went well, I followed up with them the next day, and now their monitor is powering off randomly a day after I worked there! I really hope they don't think I had anything to do with it.
Well, during the two weeks, I needed to keep busy, so I decided to buy a 500 pack of blue pastel paper, and print off some tri-fold brochures to hand deliver to homes in the area... Folding brochures is very boring work, so I made sure to check Technibble a lot to alleviate my boredom!
My second call came in just after week two, a man has a leased laptop and he is having slowdown issues with it.. His lease is nearly up, and he wants a second opinion on whether or not to buy out the laptop to own permanently.. I tell him I could sell him a laptop instead. I couldn't figure out what was going on with it though.. I speculate it was overheating, but since it was leased, I decided not to crack it open and find out...
I asked this man where he had about the business, and he said he was at the business card printers getting cards for his own business, and during casual computer conversation, the printer mentioned they had just printed 500 cards for me.. Another word of mouth call.
Call three, the woman from the bank who set up my business account, word of mouth again. her nephew dragged her desktop thru limewire sludge, and windows is hanging up after boot. I try my best, finally tell her it needs formatting. She says ok, save my pictures, which i do with Knoppix and a blank DVD. Reinstall Windows, call MS to activate, get paid!
Call four actually comes from someone who read my newspaper ad! yay, I knew that money wasnt to be wasted.. She says her computer stopped working "it's looking for a boot device when I turn it on" I get my tools together and show up to her place, but she had to leave at the last minute, so I take the PC back to the office... Well, her SATA HD is dead, BIOS can't find it at all. I tell her I can order her a new one and she'll have her computer back in a week... Turns out, her 3 year old had run around spraying Febreeze air freshener all over the computer, and this make of dell has an open mesh handle on the front, which is just above the HD bays. lol, ya, that was probably what happened. The HD comes in, I reinstall OEM Windows instead of the Dell version she has a key (and no disc for). Blech, now I'm hunting down all kinds of drivers to get this thing at 100%... Only two more to go..
Call five: my friend's mom drops in the house, and leaves his computer for me to look at... Powers up, but nothing else, no beep, no display. He has very important data on his HDs, and it must be saved above all else. Not sure what's wrong yet, seems to be the mobo or the video card, i'm gonna try a different video card first and see if i can get display.
And finally on Nov. 30, two house calls, both to diagnose wireless internet issues, the first I can't do much but call her ISP and tell them to fix it, it's definately something on their end... The 2nd, i reinstall the wireless drivers on his laptop, the fixes the issue, and he mentions his desktop is screwed up too. Well no wonder, you have 2.06 MB free on hard drive! 25 GB worth of blurry, snowy AVI files, created from his video surveillance software he had stopped using half a year ago.
Anyways, I'm pleasantly surprised at my success so far... I haven't had the smoothest calls, but no real hangups, and no lost monies. My aim either this month or early next year is too start to prepare a montly maintanence package aimed at the small businesses in my area... I'd love some advice on what kind of services your business might provide to monthly customers, and how to package it all in one maintenance plan!
BTW, all calls so far save the one from the newspaper ad have been word of mouth.
please give me some comments on my little story, is there anything I should have done different? Any ideas to fill up the free time? I still have 250 pages of blue brochures to fold... God they're boring!